Whether we are aware of it or not, we have all had Project Manager experience. Renovating your house, planning that once in a lifetime holiday or your dream wedding are all projects requiring you to spin multiple plates. The planning, execution, and delivery of these domestic projects is a process that requires you to work to time scale, within a budget and to liaise with and between multiple teams to get the job done.
Unfortunately though, when considering employment as a Project Manager, these tasks are not CV worthy!
In this series of blogs, we will take you through the technology, digital and data industry CV must-haves.
The first in this series is the Project Manager. In it, we cover the typical educational path a Project Manager might have, and the additional qualifications you should hold if you want your Project Manager CV to get noticed.
We will discuss the soft skills you should highlight, and which industry recognised methodologies or practices you could employ to ensure your profile will secure you an interview and more importantly, a seat at the table of your dream tech company.
Most companies will require their tech and digital Project Managers to hold a bachelor’s degree or higher.
Aspiring Project Managers may consider bachelor’s degrees in project management or operations management. Many Higher Education Institutions offer project management programs as concentrations within broader business and management degrees.
If technology is your intended destination, you should also consider a bachelor’s degree within Computer Science or IT. If you do go down the Business degree route, it would be good to apply some STEM elements like Maths or Engineering.
For those with a degree outside these spheres, there are options to study for a master’s degree in Project Management.
According to The World University Ranking of 2020, the top 10 universities offering a master’s in project management in the UK is topped by Manchester University. This institution sits at number 55 on the global list. The University of Warwick is second at number 77 and Bristol University sits in third position at 87.
There is a wealth of additional, industry essential qualifications that ambitious Project managers should aim to have on their CV.
The PRINCE2 (Projects IN a Controlled Environment) Certificate was developed as a UK Government standard for information systems projects. It has since evolved into a standard that is recognised globally. If you are a Project Manager with aspirations to work abroad or remotely for a foreign enterprise, the importance of a PRINCE2 qualification cannot be underestimated.
The PRINCE2 standard is a two-tier award; it is divided into Foundation and Practitioner Levels.
The foundation level is an introduction into the PRINCE2 themes, principles and approaches. It teaches how to consistently deliver projects on time and within budget, manage risk and mitigate perceived problems.
The Practitioner level then goes on to address how you might apply and tailor PRINCE2 appropriately to the needs and problems of a specific project scenario.
The PRINCE2 certification is valid for three years. At the end of which, you will need to re-sit the exam or you are able to maintain your certificate through a subscription to My PRINCE2.
The AgilePM Practitioner level certification aims to address the needs of those working in a project-focused environment who want to be Agile. Once certified, the Agile PM Practitioner qualification lasts 5 years. At that time, you will have to re-take the exam in order to retain your qualification.
ITIL is a public framework that describes best practice in IT service management (ITSM). It provides a framework for the governance of IT, the “service wrap,” and focuses on the continual measurement and improvement of the quality of the IT service delivery from both a business and a customer perspective.
ITIL has a strong emphasis on the governance of IT and the continual measurement and improvement of the quality of services. These two concerns highlight the benefits that ITIL holds for the organisations that use it. It is for this reason it is so popular with some of the world’s largest and most influential private companies and public organisations.
As a Project Manager in the technology sector, it is highly probable that you will find yourself delivering IT as part of your projects. Whether this is in the form of hardware, infrastructure, software, or service processes employers will require an understanding of ITSM and, in particular, of ITIL. An IT Project Manager will need at least a Practitioner-level understanding of ITIL if you are working in an ITIL arena. And even if you are not, it will be helpful.
Following this, you can extend your practioner qualification to an ITIL Intermediate qualification. These go into more detail than the foundation and Practioner stages and provide an industry-recognised qualification.
Only if you are at the level of your career where you will be leading IT programs would you need to go beyond this, to Expert level.
The career trajectory of a Project Manager is varied. Within the technology and digital sectors, most Project Managers start their careers as project assistants, IT and management support staff, coordinators and analysts.
In these roles, aspiring PMs can gain experience in their industry and learn from seasoned project managers.
The general timescale for moving from project support to project management is around five to ten years. Your CV should reflect your learning and growth. It is important that a record of your project management work is retained and noted on your CV. This will go a long way towards securing a Project Manager role.
By nature, Project Managers are go-getting individuals. One way of demonstrating this energy and initiative is to suggest and run small projects. For example, developing a new process or adapting a current process to become more efficient.
In practical terms, it should be demonstrated that you have assessed the lifecycle of these projects; the journey should be mapped out and you could identify what can be automated or even deleted. Test your new process to ensure it is an improvement over the original one and then follow up with a report to management on how time can be saved, as well as any cost efficiencies your task has identified.
Note these projects on your Project Manager CV.
Skills and Competencies.
On many technical CVs, so-called soft skills can sometimes be overlooked in favour of the technologies, software and technical competence.
The inclusion of these non-technical skills on a Project Manager CV is pivotal. In fact, a project manager relies on these attributes to get the job done. With this in mind, a Project Manager CV should demonstrate the following skills and competencies:
A Project Manager must be able to communicate effectively with a vast cohort of people. They must have the ability to explain complicated, sometimes technical concepts to non-technical folk. Stakeholders, third-party and board-level professionals will demand a clear and concise description of the work undertaken, the process and will require progress of the project.
Often, projects will cross teams and departments. You must be able to facilitate effective and open communication channels between all the teams involved.
The project manager must clearly explain the project goals as well as each member’s tasks, responsibilities, expectations and feedback.
Good communication is reliant upon the ability of the PM to empathise with the needs of all those involved. The needs of the stakeholder may be very different to those of the project. A good Project Manager must understand this and be able to communicate these needs to all involved.
A Project Manager CV must demonstrate strong ambassadorial qualities, such as motivating and leading a team. You should also aim to identify a tangible situation where you have driven a team to maximum performance. Don’t forget to include the size of team…if you have led a project coordinating 100 professionals across departments, say so.
Inspires a shared vision.
An effective PM should be able to articulate the vision to the team. They can lead people in the right direction and empower them to experience the vision on their own.
An effective PM needs to demonstrate strategic, analytical and evidence-based decision making. A successful project relies on dynamic and positive behaviours. A Project Manager needs to make these decisions to ensure the swift and effective conclusion of the tasks involved.
Whether you are a digital or tech Project Manager or not, it is likely that there will be some technical elements of the project you are leading.
Therefore, a knowledge of the tech used is required to understand the issues that are related to the technical aspect. Knowledge of the technical theory can also greatly help the PM in taking strategic initiatives when needed.
Cool under pressure.
Throughout the lifecycle of the project, there will be incidents that test the momentum of the project. It is crucial that the Project Manager keeps calm and controlled so as not to lose focus and the confidence of the team. Projects of any size are multi-disciplinary and have many layers. A successful PM should be able to keep many plates spinning at once to ensure a first-grade outcome.
Working to a budget.
Each project will have a budget. A great PM should be able to work within that; managing the costs involved to ensure maximum output and result while controlling spend.
An effective Project Manager CV will need to demonstrate the ability to plate spin, juggle and hop on one leg all at the same time. This is a tricky thing to demonstrate on paper. Luckily, there are a host of digital project management tools which help the document the effective communication, organisation and task distribution skills of a PM.
These tools often employ a KANBAN methodology; a system of Japanese origin which helps teams visualise workflow, maximise efficiency and continuously improve.
There are a number of these digital tools that a PM CV may include. For example, you may have used Jira, Trello or Monday.com. It is a good idea to list all those you are familiar with. Different organisations use different software, so a demonstrable history of as many as possible can only be a good thing.
Project Manager Methodologies.
There are two common approaches to Project Management; Agile and Scrum. Agile and Scrum are similar, so the two are often confused. Despite the similarities though, they are two distinct concepts. Your Project Manager CV will almost certainly have these methodologies at its heart.
Agile Project Management is a project philosophy or framework that takes an iterative approach towards the completion of a project. The goal of the Agile approach is to create early, measurable ROI through defined, iterative delivery of product features.
The iterative nature of an Agile approach means that communication with the client is necessary. This allows the expectations to align and ensures the project manager to adapt to changes throughout the process as and when necessary.
There are many different Project Management methodologies used to implement the Agile philosophy. Some of the most common include Kanban, Extreme Programming (XP), and Scrum.
Whereas Agile is a philosophy or orientation, Scrum is a specific methodology for how one manages a project. It is one of the most popular Agile methodologies used by project managers.
It provides a process for how to identify the work, who will do the work, how it will be done, and when it will be completed by.
In Scrum project management, the project team may be led by the Project Manager but consists of a product owner, Scrum master, and other cross-functional team members. Having Scrum methodology on your Project Management CV demonstrates that you can lead an inter departmental team.
Scrum also demonstrates a method of delivery known as Sprints. Each sprint is a phase of work. During sprint planning, the project team identifies a small part of the project to be completed during the upcoming sprint, which is usually a two to four week period of time.
At the end of the sprint, this unit of work should be ready to be delivered to the client. This cycle is repeated throughout the project lifecycle until the entirety of the scope has been delivered.
Scrum and the sprints within it, allow the Project Manager to give evidence of planning, effective time management while providing evidence of tangible results.
In sum, an excellent Project Manager CV should have a clear linear path to the role you are currently occupying.
You will likely be able to feature an educational path resulting in a bachelor’s degree or higher. Many institutions offer these qualifications as part of their bachelor’s business programmes. Alternatively, you may like to study for a master’s degree in Project Management.
When listing your employment history, you should try to feature your on-the-job learning, ensuring that you detail the roles in which you have actively taken on and run small projects. Your Project Manager CV should be a window into your learning and growth.
Following graduation, there is a few industry and globally recognised awards that you should aim to work toward. These certifications can be studied for whilst in work as you are in more junior, assistant or support roles.
Prince2, the Agile PM Certification and ITIL all indicate that, not only are you familiar with the requirements of a Project Manager, but that you are able to apply these principles to each job and ensure that projects are completed effectively, within budget and time frame.
While technical skills are important, soft skills should not be ignored on a Project Manager CV. Project managers need to be masters of organisation, communication and leadership. It is crucial that these skills are not omitted and stand proudly beside your qualifications and have pride of place within your career history.
If you are looking for your next tech or digital Project Manager role, head over to our job pages to have a browse through our open vacancies. We would love to hear from you if you are looking for a new challenge – get in touch today!